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"I create pieces as a way of unpacking rage, pain, contradictions, beauty, agency and joy constantly trying to understand the complex history and narrative of blackness in the United States and the black diaspora."

Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams is Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at New Jersey City University. She teaches courses on Black Womanhood; Diversity & Difference; Women’s Lives; Women & Leadership; Women, Hip-Hop & Social Change; Urban Men of Color; and Race, Class, Gender Activism.  
Ellis- Williams is an emerging, Jamaican-born, multi-media interdisciplinary abstract contemporary artist, playwright, scholar, and poet. Her work comes from a deeply spiritual place. Antoinette's ability to masterfully use storytelling in her art is reminiscence of an ancestral trait.  She weaves familiar and unfamiliar narratives with abstract marks and lines to create vibrant kaleidoscopic works of art. Through her stories, she builds a shared global community, while allowing us to examine our past, present, and future.  An advocate for women, she uses history, politics, culture, and imagination to tell their stories. Her work is a commentary on injustice and the textured lives of marginalized people. She creates as a way of unpacking rage, pain, contradictions, beauty, agency, and joy, while constantly trying to understand the complex history and narrative of blackness in the United States and black the diaspora.   
Ellis-Williams’ creative process is based on layering, recycling, reimagining, and mixing media. Mixed media abstract collaging is at the heart of the process. Constantly searching beneath layers for hidden messages and light, she pushes and dances with all media.    
In May 2023 she participated in an artist residency with Global Art Project in Leece, Italy. Dr. Ellis’ public art is in Newark Airport Terminal A (United Airlines Club Lounge) and has also appeared in the Newark Artist Collaboration with Audible.  She has had solo exhibitions at Akwaaba Gallery, Nico’s @ NJPAC, the Visual Art Gallery at NJCU, Moody-Jones Gallery. Her work has appeared at Newark Museum of Art, NJ State Museum, Morristown Performing Arts Center with Art in the Atrium, Overlook Hospital, Consulate General of Greece in NYC, Akwaaba Gallery, Museum of Science, and Industry in Chicago, Ill, Prizm Art Fair, Calabar Gallery and many other venues. Currently, Antoinette’s work is featured alongside artist John “Femi” Johnson at the Jazz Gallery NYC. Noted artist and curator Danny Simmons stated,  


“To curate this show I poured through lots of on line images of Black abstract artists. I looked at artists from all over the African diaspora but after I narrowed it down by a number of factors including geography in reasonable proximity to the Jazz Gallery I did something new, something I never did before. I tried to listen to the visual flow and Rhythm of the artwork . The Longer I tried to listen to the work the more the visuals receded and I heard the rhythm of several artists works. Then I looked for the most creative abstract sounds looking to pinpoint improvisation, the work and sound that moved beyond boundaries and moved intentionally into uncharted territory. Femi Johnson and Antoinette Ellis Williams artwork played the most untraditional music I had found.. ...their painting reflected free form Jazz found in little hip off beat jazz clubs where one went late at night to be transported to new places to new sounds to new visual languages... Each beautifully different from each other each blazing new fantastical paths. These two artists are all about Intentional Improvisation..”   

Ellis-Williams is the author of Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories, & Sayings from A Woman’s Heart (Semaj Publishing, 2013).  Dr. Ellis-Williams is part of Womb of Violet. A Womb of Violet is a project-based collective created by fayemi shakur that honors the work of contemporary Black women writers, poets and artists and pays homage to Black feminist and womanist thinkers. Her work is in Volume I & II. “In the first volume of A Womb of Violet: An Anthology, the risograph artbook served as a medium to bring together Black women living in Newark to have discussions about womanhood and reckoning with self. We reflect on our lived experiences, the ebbs of solitude and isolation, the complexity and simplicity of Black life’s importance and cultivate ideas of a future where we thrive.” 

“A Womb of Violet: An Anthology” was recently highlighted by The Met on their list of Three Artists’ Books in Celebration of Juneteenth. Her work has appeared in Scoundrel Time Magazine, When Women Speak Anthology, Tribes 16, to name a few. She has performed at the Bowery Poetry Club, When Women Speak Podcast, and many open mics. She is a playwright and actor of Scarf Diaries. Her one-woman play premiered at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 2017 and at reg. e gaines’ 2021 Downtown Urban Art Festival in NYC. Scarf Diaries won BEST play. Ellis-William’s documentary Lee Hagan: Connecting Generations (2016) won best short documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival. Her TedX Talk Finding Justice in the Land of the Free (2015) tried to unpack her immigrant status in America. She has presented papers at Oxford, Harvard, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Princeton, United Nations, to name a few. She is a highly sought after public speaker and minister. She is a member of the Zonta Club of Essex, board of trustees for the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, Women@NJPAC and the Blue-Ribbon National Committee for Civic Influencers.  
Dr. Ellis-Williams earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Urban and Regional Planning, Cornell University. She is a graduate of Seton Hall University (BA), University of Pittsburgh (MPA) and Cornell University (Ph.D.). Ellis-Williams is a minister. She says, “I hope to trigger conversations that help to transform communities, heal, and empower people.” 

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